Henri Nouwen has always been the most popular author in the ''Spiritual Life'' section of our store. Which doesn't necessarily mean he's the best, but it does say something about his extraordinary accessibility and appeal across confessional lines. But we will say more: Nouwen probably wrote too many books, but at times, he can be simply excellent. This book -- one of his earliest -- is one example. Writing honestly and vulnerably, as always, out of his own struggle to live authentically in Jesus Christ, he summarizes the Christian way as transforming loneliness into solitude, moving beyond hostility to hospitality, and from illusion to prayer (a section of the book that contains a fine introduction to ''the prayer of the heart''). The simplest can read this book, the wisest will profit from it, only the proud will disdain it. 165 pp
An Eighth Day View:
With the clarity and depth characteristic of the classics, this spiritual bestseller lays out a perceptive and insightful plan for living a spiritual life and achieving the ultimate goal of that life -- union with God.
Nouwen views our spiritual "ascent" as evolving in three movements. The first, from loneliness to solitude, focuses on the spiritual life as it relates to the experience of our own selves. The second, from hostility to hospitality, deals with our spiritual life as a life for others. The final movement, from illusion to prayer, offers penetrating thoughts on the most mysterious relationship of all: our relationship to God. Throughout, Nouwen emphasizes that the more we understand (and not simply deny) our inner struggles, the more fully we will be able to embrace a prayerful and genuine life that is also open to others' needs.
"Reaching Out" is a rich book to be read, reread, pondered, and shared with others. "It does not offers answers or solutions," Nouwen cautions, "but is written in the conviction that the quest for an authentic Christian spirituality is worth the effort and the pain, since in the midst of this quest we can find signs offering hope, courage, and confidence."